In May I wrote about the stunning ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that dying patients have
a due process right to access drugs once they have been through
FDA approved safety trials. (See the link for some amazing quotes from the ruling.) The case is now on appeal and possibly headed to the Supreme Court and I am thrilled to have a role.
I am one of the authors of an Amici Curiae brief, a friend of the court brief. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals made it’s ruling based on the right to control one’s own body:
A right of control over one’s body has deep roots in the common law. The
venerable commentator on the common law William Blackstone wrote that the right
to “personal security” includes “a person’s legal and uninterrupted enjoyment
of his life, his limbs, his body, [and] his health,”…barring a terminally ill
patient from use of a potentially life-saving treatment impinges on this right
But the court noted that a patient’s fundamental right could be rebutted if the FDA can show
that its policy of barring access to these drugs is "narrowly tailored
a compelling governmental interest."
The brief, submitted by Jack Calfee, Dan Klein, Sam Peltzman, Benjamin Zycher and myself, argues that barring access to experimental drugs does not serve a compelling governmental interest and in fact reduces patient welfare.
Unfortunately, I do not think that the Abigail Alliance can win the case; recognizing the rights that the DC Circuit of Appeals recognized would be too big a blow to our nanny state. Nevertheless, if we can help the court to be aware of some of the tradeoffs involved with drug regulation that will be valuable and it’s also great to be on a paper with Peltzman.
Thanks also to Ted Frank and others for acting as Counsel for the Amici Economists.